Former referees’ chief Keith Hackett believes the introduction of blue cards in football is a positive step to accommodate weak refereeing.

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Keith Hackett believes football is trying to ‘accommodate weak refereeing’ after it was revealed that lawmakers are to trial sin-binning players and issuing blue cards.

Referees would have the power to send players to the sin-bin for 10 minutes if they commit a cynical foul — such as killing a counter-attack — or show dissent towards match officials. Two blues, or a combination of yellow and blue, would add up to a red. 

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) are due to publish their protocols on Friday, and FA sources indicate it could be trialled in the FA Cup next season. 

Speaking on GB News, Hackett, former referees’ boss Hackett said the blue card would have a ‘positive impact,’ but criticised current match officials.

He said: ‘It seems to me what we are trying to do, is accommodating weak refereeing because the laws already allow the referee to caution players for dissent and already caution for that cynical challenge.

Football lawmakers are to trial sin-binning players and issuing blue cards with the International Football Association Board (IFAB) due to publish their protocols on Friday

Players could be sent to the sin-bin for cynical fouls or for showing dissent to match officials

Players could be sent to the sin-bin for cynical fouls or for showing dissent to match officials 

Keith Hackett (right) felt that blue cards were a good idea but that it is 'accommodating weak refereeing'

Keith Hackett (right) felt that blue cards were a good idea but that it is ‘accommodating weak refereeing’ 

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‘So for me, I think they’re right to experiment with it and I think it will have a positive impact. 

‘But at the end of the day we have to take into account that fans are not going to be seeing one or two players for a period in the game and therefore this is not just a player punishment, it’s a team punishment, so it should act as a good deterrent.’

When asked if there is any way of improving the respect that players show towards referees, he added: ‘Education. I think punishment is generally not working.

‘We need to change the dynamic between players and referees. But I go back to referees because I do think they need to be more proactive rather than reactive and nip dissent in the bud and punish it at the source than allowing it to spread amongst all the players and damage the image of the game.’

Hackett added that the sin-bin has been in operation since the 2019-20 season at grassroots level – though only used ‘very sparingly’. 

FIFA released a statement on Thursday night to say that suggestions that the blue card could come in ‘at elite levels of football are incorrect and premature.’ 

They added: ‘Any such trials, if implemented, should be limited to testing in a responsible manner at lower levels.’ 

Giorgio Chiellini's pull on Bukayo Saka during the Euro 2020 final was named as a challenge that would have been worthy of a blue card and a 10-minute dismissal

Giorgio Chiellini’s pull on Bukayo Saka during the Euro 2020 final was named as a challenge that would have been worthy of a blue card and a 10-minute dismissal

Hackett insisted blue cards would provide as a good deterrent to nip dissent in the bud

Hackett insisted blue cards would provide as a good deterrent to nip dissent in the bud

The rugby-style rules would revolutionise the way the game is played, with IFAB citing the shirt pull by Giorgio Chiellini on Bukayo Saka in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy as being worthy of a 10-minute dismissal. Chiellini received a yellow card. 

Pierluigi Collina, chairman of FIFA’s referees committee, previously said there was a desire to expand the experiment by introducing it at a professional level.

IFAB are in line to give the trial the green light at more senior levels of the game at their next annual general meeting in Scotland next month. 

Other items on that agenda include trials of ‘cooling-off periods’ after flare-ups between players and only allowing a team’s captain to approach the referee — another rule borrowed from rugby.

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